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Taking Command Newsletter

State Issues – June 2021

News from the State Capitols

Here are some highlights of state-level issues AKC GR is currently tracking.

Alabama – HB 235, a bill supported by AKC GR, authorizes food service establishments to allow pet dogs in outdoor restaurant seating areas and sets out access, sanitation, and other requirements. It also specifies that emotional support animals are not service animals within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act and are prohibited from being inside a restaurant. HB 235 was signed by Governor Kay Ivey and takes effect on August 1, 2021. Read more.

Alabama – HB 551, which sought to establish limitations and requirements for tethering a dog, failed sine die. Read more.

 Colorado – A proposed 2022 ballot referendum would amend current animal cruelty laws and no longer allow certain humane animal husbandry practices, including artificial insemination. AKC and our state federation have joined livestock and other animal groups in opposing the proposal. Read more. Supporters are currently circulating petitions, and dog owners are encouraged to help AKC and the state federation to spread the word to not sign these petitions.

 Connecticut – HB 6318 would have updated Connecticut’s statutes to align with federal service animal definitions and requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also would have educated the public regarding the differences between service, emotional support, and therapy animals, and raise awareness about the rights and responsibilities of owners of these animals. AKC GR submitted testimony in support. The bill passed in the House, but did not receive a vote in the Senate before the session adjourned.

Connecticut – In addition to other helpful provisions, HB 6504 requires a veterinary examination of animals brought into the state by animal shelters. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in support of HB 6504. The House  and Senate approved the bill, and it is now Public Act 21-90.

Connecticut – SB 123, a bill supported by AKC GR, would have increased the penalties for injuring or killing a police K-9 or volunteer search and rescue K-9. The Senate unanimously voted approval, but the bill did not receive a vote in the House before the end of the session.

Connecticut – SB 923 would have required the Connecticut Sentencing Commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws and make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly. AKC GR and the Connecticut Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (CFDRDO) expressed concern that members of the commission do not have relevant animal welfare experience. Consistent with the position of the Department of Agriculture, AKC GR submitted testimony requesting that the commission collaborate with the department and subject matter experts. The Executive Director of the commission committed to obtaining input from animal welfare experts like AKC and CFDRDO. SB 923 unanimously passed the Senate. AKC GR worked with members of the House to identify areas of concern, and the bill did not receive a vote in the House before the session officially adjourned.

Florida – AKC GR requested amendments to SB 96, a child welfare bill that, among other provisions, requires certain cross-reporting of suspected child abuse, abandonment or neglect, and animal cruelty. As introduced, the bill problematically included a provision that would have changed the definition of “animal husbandry” to exclude care of non-livestock animals. SB 96 was substantially amended, passed in both chambers, and is pending transmittal to the Governor without the problematic animal husbandry definition.

Florida – SB 388 authorizes emergency transport of and allows a paramedic or EMT to provide emergency medical care to a police canine injured in the line of duty under certain circumstances and when no person requires transport or care at that time. AKC supported the measure, which passed in both chambers and has been transmitted to the Governor.

GeorgiaHB 574 addresses disposition of fees related to licenses for pet dealers, kennels, stables, and animal shelters, and creates a fund for reimbursement of certain expenses incurred by local governments. The enacted version of the bill does not include provisions to increase fees paid by licensees. HB 574 was enacted as Act 278 and goes into effect July 1, 2021.

Georgia SB 303, a problematic dog breeder bill, did not advance during year 1 of the 2021-2022 legislative session. The Georgia Canine Coalition and other groups are working to communicate concerns with the bill and to urge that is not considered in 2022.

Illinois – HB 1711 bans the retail sale of pets in pet stores and prohibits any rescue affiliated with a breeder to source to a pet store. AKC GR and its state federation joined a broad coalition in opposing this bill, which limits pet choice and implies that a rescue is the best place to get a dog. HB 1711 has passed both the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor.

Illinois – House Bill 3971 contains new regulations requested by the state Department of Agriculture for those defined as commercial breeders (those with 5 or more intact females). AKC has been in contact with the sponsor to suggest minor amendments to these reasonable regulations. HB 3971 was considered in committee, but did not advance before the end of session. AKC GR will continue to work with the Department and the sponsor to address concerns before next session.

Illinois – SB 153 would have provided a court-appointed advocate to represent the interests of animals in a case involving the injury, health, or safety of a dog or cat. AKC and its state federation opposed this bill, as there is the potential for legal confusion about who will be responsible for making decisions impacting animals if an advocate participates in a case. The bill passed the House, but was ultimately held by the sponsor on the Senate floor and is not scheduled for a vote this session.

Illinois – SB 1672 originally sought to prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against policyholders based on the breed of dog they own. As passed by the General Assembly, it was amended to instead require companies offering liability insurance for renter’s or homeowner’s insurance to report dog-related claims to the state for the next two years. Numerous items must be reported, including the breed of the dog, the circumstances surrounding the incident, the original sourcing of the dog, and other information.

Louisiana – HB 177 reenacts provisions under current law that require public or private animal shelters to have a dog or cat sterilized prior to adoption or to enter into an agreement with the adopter have it sterilized by a Louisiana licensed veterinarian. The bill additionally authorizes certain students of veterinary schools, under certain conditions, to perform these sterilization procedures. HB 177 was signed by the Governor and becomes Act No. 178.

Louisiana – HB 223 seeks to define proper shelter for a dog as an upright, weather resistant structure with three walls, an opening, a roof, and a floor; free of waste and standing water; and of sufficient in size for an animal to stand in an upright position, turn around, and make normal posturing positions. It would exclude animal carriers, plastic crates, and other enclosures designed to provide temporary housing. HB 233 was scheduled for floor debate in the House, then was returned to the calendar. No additional action has been taken at this time.

Louisiana – HB 231, among other provisions, seeks to amend certain provisions under current law that require the disposal of dogs seized in conjunction with an accusation of dog fighting. It would allow the appointment of a licensed veterinarian or other suitable custodian to care for and individually assess each dog to determine of the dog is suitable for placement. HB 231 passed in the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development.

Louisiana – HB 409, as introduced, sought to address campus safety and accountability and require reporting of certain abuses against a student, included in the definition of stalking two or more acts of threatening a person’s pet. The bill was amended to delete the stalking definition, passed in both chambers, and has been sent to the governor.

Louisiana – HB 605, among other provisions, sought to levy sales and use tax on veterinary services and animal boarding services. HB 605 failed sine die.

Louisiana – SB 144 establishes the crime of unlawful possession, transfer or manufacture of animal fighting paraphernalia. The bill, as last amended, contains sufficient protections for legal usage of certain equipment defined in the bill as animal fighting paraphernalia, and further specifies that it does not prohibit the training of animals or the use of equipment in the training of animals for any purpose not prohibited by law. SB 144 was enacted as Act 100 and took effect on 6/4/21.

Maine – The Maine Department of Agriculture filed an omnibus bill, LD 103, which allows it to employ any person considered necessary to assist in any response to a natural or man-made disaster affecting animals; appoint a pet food supplier and an attorney with experience in the state court system to the Animal Welfare Advisory Council; and require dogs over three months of age to be vaccinated for rabies (reduced from six months of age). The bill also provides for the revocation of animal control officer certification if the officer refuses or intentionally fails to perform the officer’s statutory duties. AKC GR and the Maine Federation of Dog Clubs expressed concerns to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry regarding the inflexibility of the original wording of the rabies vaccination requirement. As a result, the committee adopted an amendment that provides an additional 30 days after a puppy turns 3 months of age to receive the initial rabies vaccination. The bill has been signed by the Governor.

Maine – In contested divorce proceedings involving the disposition of a companion animal, LD 535 would require courts to consider the well-being of the animal and a list of relevant factors, including the ability of a party to financially support the ownership of the animal and provide it adequate care, before awarding ownership. AKC GR expressed no concerns about the bill and the legislature voted to enact it on June 8, 2021.

Maine – LD 1551 prohibits the testing of cosmetics on animals and was signed into law on June 10, 2021 as Chapter 160 of the Acts of 2021.

Maryland – Legislation entitled “Unattended Dogs in Extreme Weather” was introduced during the past two sessions. “Extreme weather” was defined as temperatures below 32 or above 90 degrees, or during an active weather warning. In 2021, HB 81 and SB 122  included exemptions for hunting, livestock herding, sledding, sporting, or training as supported by AKC in 2020. AKC GR attempted to work with bill sponsors to include an exemption for persons humanely acclimating their dogs to weather conditions in order to perform certain tasks, but the recommendation was not accepted. AKC GR also sought an amendment to provide reasonable exemptions to temperature restrictions by including the phrase: “or in accordance with the age, breed, general health, or condition of the dog and its ability to withstand the environment.” HB 81 overwhelmingly passed the House as introduced. It was assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, but received no further action due to a hold request by Senator Michael Hough who was working on favorable amendments. Neither bill additionally advanced. In anticipation that the bills will be reintroduced next year, AKC GR will work with Senator Hough on a 2022 bill that provides protections for dogs, but excludes absolute temperature limitations.

Maryland HB 293 was a reintroduction of legislation from the 2020 session that sought to prohibit a person from sponsoring, conducting, or participating in certain organized contests that have the objective of hunting or killing certain wildlife for prizes or monetary awards. The 2020 bill would have negatively impacted field trials and other AKC events. AKC GR and the Sportsmen Alliance worked on an amendment to the 2020 bill to exclude lawful dog training or dog competition events. This exemption was included in the 2021 bill. HB 293 passed in both chambers and was enacted under Article II, Section 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution on May 30, 2021.

Maryland SB 103 is a reintroduction of legislation from the 2020 Session that sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores. The original bill was potentially problematic for users of Facebook and other social media “brag” pages to showcase dogs and puppies that might be available for sale. AKC GR worked with the sponsor to have the bill amended, and references to Internet sales were removed. It further clarified that a pet store does not include situations where animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer. SB 103 was reintroduced in the 2021 session and included the favorably amended language from 2020. It was amended by the House Economic Matters Committee to include a task force to study canine breeding facilities and sourcing standards, examine canine breeding practices, and make recommendations by December 1, 2021, for any legislative actions needed to create standards for persons selling dogs in the state. AKC representation is included on the task force. The bill passed both chambers, as amended, and was enacted under Article II, Section 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution on May 30, 2021.

MassachusettsHB 2547 would authorize the emergency transport and treatment of police K-9s injured in the line of duty. AKC GR urged Massachusetts residents to contact their lawmakers and request that they co-sponsor the bill; and as a result, a significant number of new legislators signed on as co-sponsors. A companion bill, SB 1606, was refiled in the Senate. Supporters requested that the Joint Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee grant an early public hearing on the bill.

Massachusetts – SB 230 and HB 384 are refiled bills that seek to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops unless they are sourced from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Similar to past versions, the proposed animal shelter and rescue definitions are problematic because they exclude rescue activities by breeders. The bills initially were assigned to the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee for review, which last session redrafted them to create consumer protections irrespective of the source of the pet. The bills have been reassigned to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. AKC GR continues to work with concerned breeders, dog owners, and allied groups in opposition to these bills as currently written.

Missouri – House Bill 365 and Senate Bill 107 would have prohibited cities and counties—even those with home rule—from enacting any breed-specific laws. It also would have made any current local breed-specific laws null and void. Local governments could have enacted policies regarding dogs so long as they were not breed-specific. AKC and its state federation supported these bills. HB 365 passed the House Local Government Committee and was pending in the Senate Administrative Rules Committee. SB 107 passed the Senate Local Government Committee. Neither bill additionally advanced before session ended.

Missouri – House Bill 589, as introduced, would have made several changes to protect dogs and the rights of dog owners when animals are seized on suspicion of neglect or abuse. The purpose of the bill was to ensure that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, and to protect dogs that are seized and held during a trial. AKC and its state federation supported this bill, which passed the House of Representatives but was not scheduled for a Senate vote prior to the adjournment of session.

MissouriHouse Bill 647 sought to ensure that no local government enact any regulation “that terminates, bans, or effectively bans by creating undue financial hardship, the job or use of working animals or an enterprise employing working animals.” As introduced, “working animal” was defined as “any animal used for the purpose of performing a specific duty or function including entertainment, transportation, education, or exhibition by for-profit and not-for-profit entities.” AKC and its state federation supported the bill, which was placed on the House floor calendar, but ultimately did not pass before the end of session.

Nebraska – LB 139 and LB 52, as introduced, would exempt persons from liability for COVID exposure unless there is evidence of gross negligence. The bills were merged and amended to state that no person may seek recovery for exposure or potential exposure relating to COVID if the act or omission in question was in substantial compliance with federal health mandates. The bill was signed by the governor on May 25 and goes into immediate effect.

New Hampshire – AKC GR and NH DOGS testified in support of HB 249, which seeks to authorize animal shelters to own or lease a facility rather than be required to own it. The bill also clarifies which exemptions to health certificate requirements apply to animal shelters, and requires that shelters contact the microchip owner of record before any transfer of the animal. HB 249 passed the House. AKC GR also testified in support of HB 249 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the bill passed the Senate on June 11, 2021. Read more.

New Hampshire – Prior to enactment of a 2019 law, a commercial breeder in the state who transferred fewer than 50 dogs in a year was not required to get municipal zoning authorization as a prerequisite for state licensure. In 2019, legislation was enacted that removed the state’s definition of commercial breeder and classified a person as a pet vendor if they transfer 25 dogs in a 12-month period. The 2019 change required all applicants for a pet vendor license to obtain municipal zoning authorization. As a result of this legislative change, several dog breeders who were previously licensed were not granted municipal zoning authorization and have been unable to obtain the state’s new pet vendor license, which is a violation of their due process rights. HB 250 seeks to address these issues by (1) raising the minimum transfer threshold to 35 dogs, and (2) “grandfathering” those breeders who were not previously required to petition local authorities for authorization before obtaining a state license so they will not need local authorization before applying to operate as a pet vendor. AKC GR and the New Hampshire Dog Owners of the Granite State testified in support of the bill. The House passed the bill, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended it by lowering the dog transfer threshold to 30 and voted it favorably. The bill, as amended, passed in the Senate, and passed on a voice vote in the House.  A conference committee will meet to resolve differences in the document.

 New Hampshire – AKC GR testified in support of HB 338, which seeks to increase the penalty for dog theft and illegally tampering with tracking collars from a misdemeanor to a class B felony. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety released an amended bill that would increase the penalty each time an individual stole a dog, from a criminal misdemeanor up to a class A felony for a third offense. AKC GR and other advocates communicated support for the bill to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which amended the House-passed bill by increasing the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony after two offenses and preserved the penalty for illegally tampering with tracking dog collars. The amended bill passed the Senate on May 13 and the House agreed to the Senate changes on June 10, 2021.

 New Hampshire – Two bills containing amended language regarding the creation of a statewide animal records database continue to advance. After AKC GR and NH DOGS expressed concerns about HB 532, a positively amended version of the bill was incorporated into House Budget Bill HB 2. The Senate Finance Committee has  adopted the amended language in SB 127, an appropriations bill, and voted in favor of HB 2.

 New Hampshire – SB 17 would, among other provisions, authorize municipalities to adopt ordinances permitting dogs outside at brew pubs. AKC supports this provision and submitted testimony to the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. The committee voted to retain the bill for further consideration.

 New Hampshire – SB 122 would, among other provisions, increase the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony for a person who injures or kills, or who allows their animal to injure or kill, a working service dog. AKC GR submitted testimony in support of this provision. The Senate Committee on the Judiciary voted favorably to release an amended bill that preserves the language supported by AKC. The bill passed in the Senate and was favorably released by the House Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety with changes. A conference committee will meet to resolve differences in bill text.

New Jersey – As originally worded, AB 1365 would prohibit the “harassing or taking” of wildlife at competitive events. The intent of similar legislation introduced in other states is to prohibit contests during which the goal is the killing of the most wildlife. However, the original wording of AB 1365 could have impacted clubs offering performance events in New Jersey. The bill is scheduled for a committee hearing, during which it is expected to be amended to address AKC’s concerns.  Click here to read more.

 New Jersey – A.2401/S.3607 seek to establish new dog-related rules, including overreaching requirements for “large dogs.” S.3607, as introduced, targets a specific phenotypic group of dogs for additional regulation, regardless of whether a dog has demonstrated problematic behavior. Read a bill summary and concerns about its impact. An amended version of A.2401 passed in committee. In response to considerable stakeholder input, it is expected that A.2401 will be additionally amended by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on June 22. AKC GR will provide an update on those amendments upon their adoption by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Read the most recent information about this legislation.

New Jersey – AKC supported SB 975, which established animal trunk fighting as an animal cruelty offense. The bill was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy. Read more.

New Jersey – SB 2868 seeks to establish a courtroom advocates (“lawyers for dogs”) program in the state. The bill features broad language that will likely impact the legal classification of animals in the state. The bill passed the Senate and has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. AKC GR is working with a coalition of interest groups in opposition to SB 2868 as currently written. Read more.

New York – Assembly Bill 4075/Senate Bill 4254 seek to prohibit insurers from refusing to issue, renew or cancel, or raise premiums for homeowner’s insurance based on breed of dog (or mixed-breed) owned by the policyholder. The bill does allow for insurance companies to take these actions if any dog (regardless of breed) has been declared dangerous based on current law, so long as these actions are based on “sound underwriting and actuarial principles” that are reasonably related to actual or anticipated loss. This legislation, supported by the AKC, has passed both the Assembly and the Senate. AKC will be sending information soon on contacting the governor to ask him to sign the legislation into law.

New York – Senate Bill 1130 and Assembly Bill 4283 would ban the retail sale of pets in pet stores in the state. AKC GR and its state federation are opposing these bills and have issued alerts, communications to both the Assembly and Senate, submitted an op-ed, and provided talking points for lawmakers supporting AKC’s position. Senate Bill 1130 was held in the Assembly Codes Committee. Assembly Bill 4283 was held in the Rules Committee. Neither bill ultimately passed before the end of session, but they can be considered in 2022.

New York – Senate Bill 6027 would allow a person to receive damages for mental distress or emotional harm caused by the injury or death of a companion animal. AKC GR opposes this bill, as it represents a potential change in the legal status of animals (animal rights) and would increase the cost of animal care significantly, which would ultimately undermine the ability of pet owners to care for their pets. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, but was ultimately held and did not advance. It could be reconsidered in the 2022 session.

North Carolina – The North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board (NCVMB) has indicated the intention to have legislation filed in 2021 to require that third-party breeder services enterprises (e.g. artificial insemination) be operated only by licensed veterinarians. Available proposal language is vague and could restrict responsible breeders from performing or obtaining AIs on their dogs. It would also potentially impact breeders by closing down the three canine reproductive centers in the state that are not veterinarian owned. AKC GR is working with policymakers and impacted stakeholders in response to the NCVMB’s proposal.

North Carolina – House Bill 849 would prohibit pet leasing in the state. As introduced, it includes a portion of AKC’s position statement on pet leasing. It also includes exemptions requested by AKC GR for breeding, stud dogs, etc. The bill was introduced on May 4 and assigned to multiple committees.

Pennsylvania – HB 142 would exempt certain Dog Law revenues from being transferred into a separate account. Since 1988, all fines, fees and costs collected by the Pennsylvania judicial system in excess of the amount collected from same sources during Fiscal Year 1986-87 are deposited into the Judicial Computer System Augmentation Account and used to operate the statewide judicial computer system. This includes certain monies that would otherwise be used to fund operations of the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which ensures the welfare of dogs in commercial breeding kennels, regulates activities pertaining to dogs classified as dangerous, and oversees licensure and rabies vaccinations for dogs, has been operating at a deficit because the licensing fees it receives do not generate enough revenue to fund operations. HB 142 would exempt from transfer approximately $200,000/year in fines, court fees and costs received under the Dog Law. HB 142 passed the House and is now in the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Pennsylvania HB 526 / SB 232 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that seek to increase dog license fees to provide additional funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. As proposed, the legislation changes the dog licensing requirement from 12 age weeks to 8 weeks, but eliminates differentiation between intact and spayed/neutered dogs. AKC GR and the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs met with the Bureau director regarding the proposed legislation. AKC GR will continue the monitor these bills.

Pennsylvania – SB 234 seeks to establish a retail pet store ban in favor of showcasing shelter and rescue dogs for adoption. AKC GR met with the Senate staff to discuss the legislation and offer better alternatives than an outright ban. In both the meeting and follow up, AKC GR encouraged the sponsors to introduce enhanced consumer protection legislation that provides consumers with better information and protection from all sources of obtaining dogs, including rescues and shelters which are currently exempt. AKC GR will continue to monitor the bill, which is pending in committee and likely will not be scheduled for a hearing or any committee action in the foreseeable future.

Pennsylvania – AKC GR is working with the sponsor of SB 1267, which seeks to a create a task force to develop a comprehensive, evidence-based plan for animal welfare laws through collaboration among veterinarians, doctors, state agencies, and concerned legislators. The bill will be reintroduced as a Domestic Animal Task Force, to include individuals representing various stakeholder organizations and representatives from the PA Department of Agriculture and the Attorney General’s office. AKC GR is working to ensure that AKC, the Pennsylvania Federation of Dog Clubs, and a breeder based in Pennsylvania are included on the Task Force. Target date for introduction of the legislation is late June.

Rhode Island – Refiled from 2019, HB 5040 seeks to create a statewide animal cruelty registry. The intent of the bill is that offenders listed on the registry would be prohibited from owning animals because the bill would require all pet sellers and shelters to check the registry before transferring an animal, with significant fines for violations. AKC GR and the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union expressed significant concerns with the bill at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing. AKC noted specific concerns with the ineffectiveness of registries at preventing animal cruelty and the ease at which cruelty violators would be able to evade the registry, and encouraged the committee to consider more effective means. The committee held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – The House Judiciary Committee considered testimony on HB 5569, which seeks to allow district courts to include pets in temporary protective orders for domestic violence victims. While family courts already have this power, AKC GR submitted testimony in support of this measure to further protect pets from violence in domestic situations. The committee held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – HB 5577 would authorize court-appointed legal advocates for animals. AKC GR issued an alert and testified in opposition to the bill before the House Judiciary Committee, which retained the bill for further review. The Senate President introduced SB 534 and the Senate Minority Leader introduced SB 601, companion bills to HB 5577. AKC GR developed a fact sheet for constituents and contacted potentially impacted governmental stakeholders, including the Department of Environmental Management, Attorney General, and the Rhode Island Supreme Court. AKC GR, AKC clubs in the state, and the RI ACLU testified in opposition and met with lawmakers and staff. A commitment was made by the Senate President to not move forward with the bills as introduced.

Rhode Island – In marriage dissolution cases, HB 5580 would authorize courts to use the same criteria used in awarding the custody of a child for awarding the possession of a pet. AKC GR submitted written testimony in opposition to courts using criteria governing child custody disputes for animals. The House Judiciary Committee held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – HB 5617 would place a lifetime ban on the possession of animals by anyone convicted of serious animal cruelty. AKC expressed concerns that the bill could take away an important discretionary tool judges have to obtain agreement by a defendant to engage in mental health counseling to determine whether the conduct was the result of mental illness, and, if so, to order treatment. Moreover, as introduced, the bill did not address how a convicted person would be monitored for compliance for the duration of their lifetime. The House Judiciary Committee has held the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – HB 5736 seeks to ban tethering a dog outside for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is below 32 degrees or above 90 degrees. Current law provides animal control officers with discretion to address any weather situation where a dog might be at risk of harm. Because adding specific temperatures to the law could diminish protections for a breed that tolerates only moderate temperatures and punish owners of breeds that thrive in lower temperatures, AKC testified in opposition to HB 5736 before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee retained the bill for further study.

Rhode Island – SB 319 would authorize an officer to hold an animal rescued from a motor vehicle for up to 72 hours or until a court arraignment could be scheduled. Additionally, after a hearing, a court could order that the owner permanently surrender physical possession and ownership of the animal. AKC GR submitted written testimony expressing concerns with SB 319’s potentially onerous impacts.

Rhode Island – SB 489 would establish a process for animal owners to donate certain unused medications for use by nonprofit state and local facilities. SB 489 passed the Senate and is under review by the House Health and Human Services Committee.

South Carolina  H 3066 seeks to increase penalties for teasing, injuring or killing a police dog or horse. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

South Carolina  H 3067 seeks to require that any second violation of the Chapter on Cruelty to Animals, which include violations under which no animal is harmed, would require forfeiture of ownership of all animals and a prohibition from owning an animal for five years. H 3067 has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

South Carolina – H 4094 contains problematic findings and seeks to restrict ownership of and require registration of fertile pit bull dogs with a governmental animal control agency. These requirements would apply to “American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers,” dogs displaying the physical traits of one or more of the listed breeds, or a dog exhibiting the distinguishing characteristics that conform to the standards established by the AKC for any of the breeds. AKC GR issued an alert and sent a letter of concern to subcommittee members. H 4094 has appeared on the agenda of the House Special Laws Subcommittee, but has not yet been considered.

South Carolina – S 186 would remove certain exemptions for hunting dogs under state cruelty laws while protecting the use of recognized and responsible training techniques and devices. S 186 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

South Carolina  S 378 would increase penalties for teasing or injuring police dogs and horses, and provide that a person convicted must pay restitution for costs of restoring or replacing a police animal and complete 500 hours of community service. S 378 passed in the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

South CarolinaS 556 seeks to make changes to certain laws that govern trapping in the state. As introduced, this bill could have increased hazards for dogs whose owners participate in field trials, Coonhound events, hunting, and training for these sports, as well as hiking, wilderness camping, and other outdoor activities with dogs. The bill was favorably amended in committee to address certain concerns. It passed in the Senate and was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Read AKC GR’s alert on S 556 as it was originally introduced.

TennesseeHB 547 / SB 511 would require any person who, during a twelve-month period, possesses or maintains ten or more intact female adult dogs for the primary purpose of selling their offspring as household pets, to register with the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Registrants would be subject to inspections biennially and at the discretion of the commissioner, and rules and fees would be set by the commission. Registrants could not participate in organized or home-based dog rescue activities. SB 511 was sent to “General Sub” in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee, which means the bill has been put “on hold” and is very unlikely to be considered again in 2021. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore the bills remain active until end of session in 2022. Read AKC GR’s legislative alert on SB 511 and update on the action in committee. AKC GR will continue to monitor these bills.

Tennessee – HB 726 sought to require the relative of a pet’s deceased owner to retrieve the animal from an animal control agency within seven days or else the animal would be considered abandoned. SB 726 failed in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Similar bill SB 1109 has not been considered in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

Tennessee – HB 733 / SB 166 amend the definition of aggravated animal cruelty. SB 166 was signed by the Governor and is now Public Chapter 580, effective July 1, 2021.

TennesseeHB 803 / SB 903, among other provisions, would increase penalties for offenses against more than nine non-livestock animals. This type of legislation is sometimes referred to as “multiple spilled water bowls equal a felony” bills. HB 803 was deferred to the Special Calendar of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. SB 903 has been assigned to the General Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Tennessee legislative session lasts two years, and therefore these bills remain active until end of session in 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor these bills.

TennesseeHB 1322 / SB 948 would require law enforcement agencies to annually report statistics and policies regarding police canine units to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) commission and require the POST commission to develop and implement state guidelines for the training, care, and use of police canine units for law enforcement purposes. Action was deferred on these bills until 2022. AKC GR will continue to monitor this legislation.

Texas – House Bill 604 requires animal shelters and releasing agencies, including animal rescue organizations, to scan an animal for a microchip as soon as practicable after the animal is placed in their custody. AKC voiced support for HB 604, which was signed into law on May 26.

 Texas – AKC supported House Bill 1677, which directs the State Preservation Board to establish a Texas Police Service Animals Memorial Monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol. The bill was signed into law by  Governor Abbott on June 7.

 Texas – AKC opposed HB 1818 as Engrossed, which sought to limit pet stores that are located in counties of more than 200,000 residents to sourcing dogs from only: (1) an animal control agency, (2) an animal shelter, or (3) an animal rescue organization. However, the bill was amended in the Senate pursuant to recommendations from AKC and other allied interest groups. Due to disagreement between the conferees, the bill failed in conference committee. Read more.  

Texas – AKC strongly opposed SB 323, which sought to expand the scope of the state’s Licensed Breeder Program by reducing the threshold that qualifies a breeder to be regulated. Under current law, a breeder must possess 11 or more adult intact female dogs or cats (in addition to other qualifications) to be subject to state regulation. SB 323 attempted to reduce that threshold to five or more adult intact females. AKC’s lobbyist worked  to ensure that SB 323 would not advance, and the bill never received a committee hearing.

 Vermont – HB 421, which was supported by both AKC and the Vermont Federation of Dog Clubs, requires training and oversight for animal control officers, and appropriately narrows the definition of “humane societies” that may appoint animal control officers. The governor signed the amended bill on May 20, 2021. Read more.

West Virginia HB 2095 sought to enhance state animal welfare laws. It included provisions for the care of animals by public shelters and by private individuals, and would have brought state law into alignment with reasonable, accepted animal husbandry and care standards. The sponsor agreed to AKC’s recommended amendments regarding extreme weather and consumer protection, and to work with AKC on animal hoarding language. The bill passed the House with amended language. HB 2095 was not considered in the Senate prior to end of session. AKC GR will work with the sponsor to have the amended bill reintroduced in 2022.